Friday, April 12, 2013

Airman returns to flying status after having part of leg amputated

by Brandice J. O'Brien
Tinker Air Force Base Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- When Senior Airman Justus Bosquez walks down a narrow hallway in his airman battle uniform, he looks no different than his peers. Like many of them, he can do salsa, merengue and two-step dances. He can run a marathon wearing a 30-pound rucksack and he can perform his flying duties on an E-3 Sentry. The difference is he doesn't take those tasks for granted, not since his left calf and foot were amputated.

Bosquez lost his leg and foot in June 2011 following a hit-and-run crash caused when a vehicle traveling 80 mph on a city street rear-ended his motorcycle.

After 11 surgeries, including two amputations, two months in the hospital and six months of intense rehabilitation, he returned to work almost a year later, but not to flying duties. For that, he waited 10 more months as medical board waivers, clearances and approvals were made. He received his medical clearance to fly earlier this month and went on his first flight March 25.

He is most likely the first E-3 air surveillance technician and AWACS member to fly as an amputee. The records only go back as far as the early 2000s, officials said.

"It's like a finish line for me, and a starting point, too, as I'm a productive member of the Air Force -- going to fly, fight and win, as they say," said Bosquez, a 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron E-3 Air Surveillance technician. "It was fun and the most exciting part was when the wheels were going up in the wheel well and I knew we were really flying. It was a good mission. Hopefully next week I can go up again."

The accident happened on a Monday night, just before midnight. Bosquez had been hanging out with friends and purposely left early to avoid the alcohol-impaired drivers who would be leaving bars at closing time. He drove south on an interstate highway when he was hit and thrown from the motorcycle.

"I was pretty much in the air and basically saying, 'God save me' and the second thing was I knew I had to relax," Bosquez said. "When I landed, I was pretty angry because I was by myself and I had to make a tourniquet for my own leg and call the cops."

When he arrived at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, a doctor touched the Airman's foot and asked him, "Can you feel this?"

"Everything in my body and mind was trying to say, 'Yes, I can.' But, when I said, 'I feel something,' the doctor said he wasn't touching me," Bosquez said.

The doctor then told him there was only a 10 percent chance of saving the leg and foot. Out of those odds, there was only a 1 in 5 chance that they would be as functional as they were before the accident. Bosquez gave the doctor permission to amputate the limbs.

"The next morning was surreal because I woke up to fluorescent lights and realized it wasn't a dream," he said. "Then I pulled back the covers and it was really gone."

In the next two months, Airman Bosquez endured 10 more surgeries - one to reconstruct the bones and nine to clean out the area. Following the operations, the Airman spent 30 days in occupational therapy at the Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital at Integris Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

When he left Jim Thorpe, Bosquez went to The Center for the Intrepid, a Wounded Warriors program in San Antonio, Texas. For six months, he faced intensive rehabilitation.

"That was probably my saving grace right there, because they were no joke when it comes to doing all the exercises," he said. "They started by telling me they weren't going to feel sorry for me, and I was going to do the exercises. I said, 'Ok, cool; awesome.' They weren't going to pity me and that's the last thing I wanted from anyone.

"I never really felt sorry for myself. Whenever people tell me I 'can't' do something, it makes me want to do something. I'm always a happy person and look at the brighter things because I know it could be worse," Bosquez said. "I probably shouldn't be alive today based on the way that accident went, but I'm here, so obviously I'm here for something."

Bosquez' s treatment began with walking, followed by jogging, swimming, core exercises, weights and rebuilding his muscle. In the hospital, he said he had lost 65 pounds. He graduated the program when he completed a marathon through mountains in Mexico carrying a 30-pound ruck sack.

"I think he's accomplished more than anyone could ever have accomplished in their dreams. He's so inspirational and shows people to never give up on life no matter how bad it gets," said Senior Airman James Brown, a good friend and 965th AACS Airborne Surveillance technician. "When he sets his mind on something, he will get it done because he has so much drive and determination."

When Bosquez returned to work in April 2012, he was determined to make his first day back like any previous day had been. Conscious of how he walked and held himself, he did his best to blend in.

But, that's not to say he didn't stand out. Since returning to work, he's gained the respect of many Airmen in his unit.

"He's inspirational and resilient," said Master Sgt. Stephen Stencel, the 965th AACS first sergeant. "He has a really positive attitude for what he's been through and the fact that he's back on flying status and he has to maintain the same physical training standards as the rest of the Air Force is amazing."

Longtime friend and peer, Staff Sgt. Efrem Allen said when he learned about Bosquez's amputation, he was shocked and pleasantly surprised by the Airman's attitude.

"I knew that Justus was a strong person, but the accident seemed to bring the best out of him. I honestly do not know one other person that could've bounced back as well as him, including myself," said Allen, a 965th AACS Senior Surveillance technician. "His generally upbeat demeanor never changed and not only is he walking again, but I've seen him outrun numerous people at PT. His hard work not only allowed him to stay active duty, but he's also returning to flying status. He is truly an inspiration."

Humbled by the kind words he often hears, the Airman said he's not trying to be anything more than he already is. When he's not at work, the Austin-native is pursuing a bachelor's degree from Rose State College, working out or spending time with friends or his dogs. He said he still enjoys sports including scuba diving, snowboarding and hunting.

"I am who I am, and people will see what they want to see," he said.

D-M retires 38 A-10s, gains 41 more

by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 355th Fighter Wing began retiring 38 A-10 Thunderbolt II jet aircraft to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group here, April 8.

The Wing began transferring A-10s in order to receive 41 A-10s from multiple bases during the next few months. The first group of aircraft arrived from Barksdale AFB, La., April 9.

The 355th FW is scheduled to receive A-10s from various bases around the world to include Barksdale AFB, La., Whiteman AFB, Mo., Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Osan Air Base, Korea.

"The change comes from budget cuts in Congress," said Master Sgt. Mark Molineaux, 355th FW A-10 Divestiture Team superintendent. "Congress looked at all the A-10s in the fleet and decided which ones to get rid of based on the number of hours on the plane, body condition and flying ability."

The A-10 Divestiture Team is a conglomerate of aircraft maintainers, from multiple Air Force specialty codes, that formed to accomplish these transfers and retirements more effectively, while minimizing impact to the Wing's flying mission.

"Not all of the A-10s being stationed here will be active duty," Molineaux said. "One of the active duty training units is scheduled to transfer over to a Reserve unit sometime in the future. The jets will be spread out through all the squadrons."

With the transfer of planes, there will be a lot more work for the maintainers. With one of the units converting over to Reserve, there will be less active duty personnel stationed here to work on the A-10s.

"While the process of retiring and accepting aircraft certainly isn't a new one, each airframe presents unique challenges," Molineaux said. "Fortunately, we have some of the Air Force's best and brightest aircraft maintainers here in the 355th Maintenance Group, who have repeatedly proven that no challenge is too great."

Lightning strikes through the clear skies of Nellis

by Staff Sgt. Michael Charles
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/9/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- Lightning seldom appears in the Las Vegas sky, but when it does, it is always something to behold.

Local residents can attest to the unique opportunity in Southern Nevada of seeing one bolt of lightning dash across the sky with the Las Vegas skyline in the background. However on April 4, witnesses were able to experience a sight that they had not seen before.

Unlike traditional weather that normally comes and goes with the clouds, this time there was not a cloud in the sky. This lightning was made of metal and powered by fuel. Two F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron conducted the aircraft's first operational flights from Nellis.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop, 422nd TES director of operations and Capt. Brad Matherne, 422 TES F-35 division commander, were the first pilots to conduct and an operational flight from Nellis' flight line.

Both have prepared for this moment for quite some time.

"It's been a long time coming and the level of effort by all those involved with getting to this point has been nothing short of astounding," Matherne said. "Now we can get down to the business of what Nellis does best; the development of tactics."

"The squadron's first F-35 sortie represents the culmination of efforts by a world-class operations and maintenance team," Bishop said. This mission also signified the beginning of a new chapter in the storied history of Nellis AFB.

The successful flight does not begin or end with the pilots. Bishop went on to credit the hard work of maintenance Airmen with mastering a complex new airframe, while working overtime to ensure it was ready for flight.

"The first local F-35 flight speaks volumes about the professionalism our Nellis maintenance team," he added. "The fact they were able to accept the aircraft and get them into the air so quickly is astonishing. These jets are new to Air Combat Command, so they are literally writing the book on many of the procedures used to maintain the aircraft."

Members of the 57th Maintenance Group's Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 422nd TES have prepared for years to make the transition of the F-35A to Nellis smooth.

"All the training and preparation over the last two years have been for this day," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Prah, Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. "Getting the aircraft in the air shows the hard work our maintenance Airmen have put forth in order to bring this new capability to Nellis."

"If you look at the capability that this aircraft will bring to the fight once it's operational, it's humbling knowing you were involved with the initial development," Matherne said. "It will definitely be something I look back at and take pride in for a long time."

This historic flight comes less than a month after the March 19 arrival ceremony for the aircraft.

During the ceremony, Maj. Gen Lofgren, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, noted that live flying the aircraft over the Nevada Test and Training Range is only the first step in integrating the F-35 into operations here.

A simulator is also being constructed on Nellis in order to test and develop tactics for advanced training. Together with continued operational flights, the air force will begin to see how the Lightning II reacts to realistic enemies in real-world operations.

While this may be the first time the Lightning II has appeared in the clear skies over Las Vegas, it will not be the last. The Air Force plans to assign 20 more F-35s to Nellis by 2020.
"This is the future of airpower," Bishop said. "I am honored be a part of the team that will write the tactics, techniques, and procedures F-35 pilots will use in the years to follow."

Commander Stresses Importance of New Air Refueling Tanker

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2013 – The commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command today stressed the high priority his service places on the KC-46A tanker aircraft program.

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva discussed progress with the program and stressed its priority in a meeting with Defense Writers Group reporters.

Air Force officials announced award of a $3.5 billion engineering and manufacturing development contract to Boeing Co. for the new tanker in February 2011.

“I’m on the record saying that our No. 1 acquisition priority in AMC -- and it remains the Air Force’s No. 1 priority -- is making sure the KC-46 tanker delivers on time, on cost,” he said. “And because we have a firm fixed-price contract for the development of that airplane, if we allow ourselves to get into the position where we don’t have the funds to pay for the initial development of the airplane, that contract gets reopened.”
This would be a bad outcome for the Air Force and for the nation –- in reverse order, Selva said.

“We’ll pay more for the airplane than we know we have to based on the existing contract,” he added.
The general said an initial round of site surveys for where the aircraft will be based has taken place, and the critical final design review is scheduled in July.

“We’re in source selection for the simulator training devices, which means we’re already started into the process of developing the curriculum and deciding how we’re going to train the crews that operate the airplane,” Selva said.

Selva said a recent decision will enable the Air Force to reap the new tanker’s benefits faster than earlier plans projected.

“About six months ago, we finalized a decision to change the crew ratio on the airplane from two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half crews per airplane,” he said. “[This] will allow us to use the airplane in greater volume earlier in its lifetime, because it’s so much more efficient than the KC-135.”

The KC-135 Stratotanker has provided the Air Force’s core aerial refueling capability for more than 50 years.

Face of Defense: B-2 Crew Chief Fills Important Role

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Wilson
509th Bomb Wing

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo., April 11, 2013 – His hands are glazed from spatters of grease and oil. His uniform reeks of hydraulic fluid after working a 12-hour shift maintaining a B-2 Spirit bomber.

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Air Force Airman 1st Class Steven McCray speaks to the pilot through a headset and communications cord during a B-2 Spirit bomber pre-flight inspection at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 5, 2013. During preflight inspections, crew chiefs review a checklist with pilots to ensure the aircraft is free of abnormalities. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Steven McCray, 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit B-2 crew chief, is one of more than 160 crew chiefs who perform maintenance on the B-2. He is assigned to the maintenance team for the “Spirit of Missouri,” one of two B-2s that flew the March 28 long-duration, round-trip training mission to South Korea as part of the Foal Eagle training exercise.
“It is an amazing feeling to be able to say, ‘My jet flew on that training mission to South Korea,’” McCray said. “It felt good to see it on national television and to read about it in news articles. [Seeing] photos of the plane I helped launch was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The news of McCray’s B-2 even attracted the attention of family and friends in Sanderson, Fla., McCray’s hometown.

“Airman McCray, on this particular endeavor, did his job exactly like he does his job every day,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Jones, 13th AMU dedicated crew chief. “When we come to work, we train how we fight. Airman McCray was simply handling business as usual.”

Jones is the flight lead who supervises McCray’s shift.

“The B-2 is a big part of our Air Force,” McCray said. “Not having a stealth-capable aircraft could be disastrous. You never know when our country might need the B-2 for a global emergency, so that’s our motivation -- to provide the highest quality maintenance possible.”

McCray said he gets a lot of his motivation from the pride in his aircraft and the knowledge that pilots are safe when they take off.

“Not only are the pilots' lives in our hands but, like a car engine, B-2s also need to be fixed,” McCray said. “If we can’t do our job properly, then the aircraft won’t even lift off the ground.”
Part of making sure B-2s can lift off means performing pre-flight and post-flight inspections to ensure all components are in working order.

“We’re constantly inspecting,” McCray said. “Even when an aircraft isn’t going anywhere, it still gets inspected.”

Attention to detail is crucial, because hours of hard work from various maintenance sections can go down the drain if one crew chief does not do his job correctly, McCray said.

If issues arise during inspections, B-2 crew chiefs have more than 1,000 technical orders they can follow, which provide step-by-step guidance on how to troubleshoot and perform each task. “We have to do exactly what the TO tells us to do, verbatim,” McCray said. “There’s no corner-cutting at all.”

Having been stationed at Whiteman for more than two years, McCray has had his fair share of maintenance work on all shifts.

“I’ve been on days, mids and swings, and none of them are really bad,” McCray said. “It’s just that they might need you on days one day because the manning could be low or they need to fill a spot. Or they can put you on swings because you are more experienced compared to younger airmen, and they need some type of leadership.”

During his first few months, McCray said, he had some trouble adjusting to working through night shifts, because his body was not used to sleeping during the day and staying awake at night. “I had to cover my windows with aluminum foil to block out the sunlight,” he added.

In addition to adjusting to different work shifts, the Florida native also had to adjust to Missouri’s long, cold winters.

“Where I’m from, the coldest it ever got was about 60 degrees,” he said. “I saw snow and icy roads for the first time my first year here.”

For McCray, maintenance is a lot more than just a job that pays the bills. It is a standard of living.
“It’s part of your lifestyle. You can’t just go home and not think about maintenance,” he said. “Even though you’re relaxed when you get home, you still have to think about the next day’s events, because you want to be on your ‘A’ game every time you come back to work.”

Whether launching a B-2 or providing routine maintenance, crew chiefs are one large part of the flight line team that keep Spirits soaring.

“At the end of the day you need [aircraft generation equipment personnel], you need pilots. and you need crew chiefs,” McCray said. “Everybody is a big piece of the puzzle on the flight line.”

Strategic Command Provides Vital Warfighter, Operational Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2013 – While providing the deterrence to protect the United States from a strategic attack, U.S. Strategic Command is playing a very real, yet often unrecognized, role in operations in Afghanistan and around the globe, its commander, Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, reported.

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Warfighters might not realize it, but U.S. Strategic Command provides many of the capabilities they rely on in combat operations. Here, Army 1st Lt. Michael Kim, platoon leader of 2nd Platoon, Apache Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, checks his location with a handheld GPS -- a capability provided through Stratcom -- while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, July 30, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matt Young

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I joke to theater combatant commanders and tell them, ‘There isn’t anything you do that Stratcom doesn’t touch,’” Kehler told American Forces Press Service during an interview here.

“At first they would push back on that,” he said, not immediately recognizing Stratcom as the behind-the-scenes force that drives many of the capabilities they rely on every day.

Kehler said he reminds them that Stratcom is the driving force behind satellites that allow them to communicate, cyber defenses that protect their networks, and GPS capabilities that help them navigate and, when necessary, lock in on and engage targets. In addition, the command coordinates the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that give U.S. and coalition forces a decisive edge on the battlefield that saves lives.

“We are in the fight everywhere U.S. military people operate, communicate, have global awareness and local awareness,” Kehler said. “In all those cases, there is some piece of that that is either provided by or enabled by Strategic Command.”

Despite being central to military operations, that support largely is transparent to users, he acknowledged.
“We are providing real-time, day-to-day capability for space and for cyber. We are providing the ballistic missile defense system. We are providing the synchronization for combating weapons of mass destruction,” Kehler said.

“We are providing the synchronization activity for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on a global basis,” he continued. “We are providing analysis and targeting on a global basis, to include the cruise missile support activities for the Atlantic and Pacific. We are providing the long-range global fires through global strike, if those are required in the theater.”

For example, Stratcom provided global-strike capability for U.S. Africa Command during the opening days of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, Kehler said.

In addition, Strategic Command provides the oversight and tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure military operators have uncontested access to the electromagnetic spectrum.

That access, required for almost every modern technical device, “provides us the opportunity to communicate with one another and to share data across long distances,” Kehler said. “It’s the glue that binds us all together.”

Stratcom’s challenge, he said, is to ensure all U.S. forces have access to and control of this spectrum that provides the a vital military advantage, while protecting against vulnerabilities adversaries might try to exploit through jamming or “dazzling” that makes sensors inoperable.

Kehler offered high praise for the men and women of Stratcom for their behind-the-scenes contributions to the wartime mission and to every other military operation around the world.

“We believe we are standing in the theaters, shoulder-to-shoulder, with theater combatant commanders,” Kehler said. “We are essential to the function of the geographic combatant commands. And we are critical in the fight.”

Meanwhile, Stratcom continues to provide what Kehler called the ultimate form of support for those charged with defending the nation: deterrence that prevents conflict from breaking out in the first place, and if it does, from escalating.

“We don’t want to fight a war. We don’t want to get there. We would rather be in some place where we have prevented one,” Kehler said. “And we think that deterrence and assuring our allies, contribute to the prevention of conflict, which is where we would rather be.”

Operation R&R: building family bonds, rewarding heroes

by Airman 1st Class Tom Brading
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- One Joint Base Charleston spouse, along with the help and support of the local community, is making a big difference by dedicating her free time to rewarding local heroes.

Nikki Weeks, spouse of Capt. Shane Weeks, 16th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot (along with a team of sponsors, greeters and business partners) dedicates herself to providing service members who have recently returned from deployment, the opportunity to reconnect with their families. She does this by operating Operation R&R, the Charleston chapter of the non-profit organization.

The program is based out of Hilton Head and Charleston, S.C.

Property owners donate their homes and condominiums to ORR, providing service members who have recently returned from deployment and their families, an opportunity to spend time away from everyday worries.

It also gives these families a chance to strengthen their relationships, which are often strained due to long separations.

"Families accepted into the program are awarded a four to seven day stay in donated homes and condos in the Charleston area during our season," said Weeks.

A typical season for ORR runs from September through March. In addition to the free lodging, businesses offer discounts to the individuals; this includes restaurants, service-related companies, grocery stores and the opportunity to have a family portrait taken by a professional photographer.

"Simply put, Operation R&R is very awesome," said Weeks, in regards to the programs mission and success. "Seeing the faces of service members and their families reconnect makes everything worth it."

ORR was originally founded in 2008 in Hilton Head, S.C., by Dr. Grant Evans, who donated his vacation home to a Soldier and his family. What started as a random act of kindness has turned into regional and soon-to-be national movement. Today, more than 700 military families stationed at bases around the Southeast have enjoyed a free vacation courtesy of ORR.

"Operation R&R played a vital role in re-acclimating my family after two consecutive, back-to-back, deployments," said Lt. Col. Pete Reddan, 437th Airlift Wing Chief of Safety. "To have the opportunity to spend time away was invaluable to reconnecting, on a personal level, with my wife and son. Operation R&R directly improves any DoD members resiliency."

For Weeks, ORR is her full-time, volunteer job. But, she has also volunteered as a JB Charleston - Air Base Crossfit instructor and is currently a board member on the Team Charleston Spouses Club.

"Often times, people see photos of homecomings with families crying and hugging and everything appears great," said Weeks. "But, what is sometimes difficult to see are the weeks following the homecoming. Reintegrating after months away can be just as challenging as deploying. If what I've done has helped save even one family, then it's well worth the time dedicated."

Major General Patrick answers questions about the 2nd AF role in the bigger mission

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- Maj. Gen. Leonard A. "Len" Patrick is the Commander of the Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. He is responsible for the development, oversight, and direction of all operational aspects of basic military training, initial skills training, and advanced technical training for the U.S. Air Force enlisted force and support officers.

General Patrick entered the Air Force in 1981 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He served in various base level and headquarters assignments. His commands include the 502nd Air Base Wing, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas; the 37th Training Wing at Lackland AFB, Texas; the 60th Mission Support Group at Travis AFB, Calif.; and the 12th Civil Engineer Squadron at Randolph AFB, Texas. He has twice served as a major command director, including the Director of Installations and Mission Support at Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill., and the Civil Engineer at Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB. Prior to this assignment, he served as Commander, 502nd Air Base Wing, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. (bio courtesy of USAF)

He sat down with the 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs office to talk about what the 2nd Air Force is doing to meet the core values of today's Air force and the role that airman play in the overall mission.

How can Airmen help sustain 2nd Air Force's ability to retain, train, and equip airman as we work through our current fiscal challenges?

I use the term Airman with a capital A. That means those that are Non-Commissioned Officers, civilians and contractors. What I would ask folks to do is to come to work every day, do their job and put everything into what they do. Our job is to train, educate and put airman in the field to support the fight. When I get around the command I'm enthusiastic about all the things that I see and I like the enthusiasm the Airmen bring to the fight.

How is 2nd Air Force working to ensure that Airmen have a positive and safe environment in which to work and train?

I think you've seen over the past year we've taken feedback from Airmen. We've looked at gaps in policies dealing with leadership, institutional safeguards and the culture of that environment. We've taken that feedback and made policies to close those (gaps). We know that those who aim to skirt our policies could adapt and may look for gaps in our new policies, so we're constantly looking at our procedures whether they be fiscal, procedural or command authority related. We want to make sure that the parents who send us their sons and daughters are being sent to an environment in which they can be safe and proud to be an Airman.

What role does innovation play in training the Airman of today and tomorrow? How can we foster such innovation?

I think if you look at how General Rice has rolled out the culture of cost consciousness; that is not a bumper sticker that is the way we need to think about being innovative and delivering training. The Airman has to be actively involved in the learning process and take on their own responsibilities. We have to shape the training environment to what the Airman need. They like self-paced learning, different technologies, online and classroom interaction. We have to be able to look for ways to give Airmen time. I'm talking about not wasting Airmen's time on redundant things like teaching initial skills Airmen something they aren't going to use for four or five years. Creating this cost conscious culture from the Airman that's at the gate to the Airman in the control tower, Airmen need to look for a way to be efficient.

What is your most urgent priority when it comes to training and equipping Airman to achieve the Air Force mission?

My most urgent mission today is to assure folks that we will be here in the future to train the Airman of tomorrow. We're in an environment where the DoD and the U.S.A is looking where the budgets have been in the past and bringing in fiscal realities as far as where society is going and where our nation is headed. I need to get the word out that we're still going to educate young Airmen to do their job. We're going to train young men and woman for their vocation. As I progress through my role as 2nd Air Force commander I need to ensure that the workforce knows that their needs are going to be taken care of.

Sheppard celebrates opening of RSAF Country Liaison Office

by 2nd Lt. Meredith Hein
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Royal Saudi Air Force Country Liaison Office celebrated its official opening during a ribbon cutting ceremony here April 8.

Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick, 2nd Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony during his visit to Sheppard.

"Our mission is to train and inspire Airmen," said Brig. Gen. Michael Fantini, 82nd Training Wing commander. "Together, we are able to strengthen the partnerships of cross-cultural trust among Airmen at all levels."

Royal Saudi Air Force Lt. Col. Abdulrahman Alkhmees, the senior RSAF country liaison officer, was given the honor of cutting the ribbon.

There has been an influx in the number of Saudi technical training students in recent months in the F-15 modernization program. This increase is the result of a $29.4 billion foreign military sale, which enabled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to purchase 84 new F-15 fighter aircraft as well as upgrade the 70 F-15 aircraft in the current fleet.

Due to increased training, the RSAF required a more permanent residence at Sheppard. The newly renovated Country Liaison Office contains office space and meeting rooms for the country liaison officers.

Additionally, Saudi students will be able to move into their own recently renovated dorm rooms as early as April 13. The dorms contain 300 rooms, which offer space for a total of 594 Saudi students in training here.

"Our journey together hasn't been without its share of bumps, and I'm sure there will be more bumps as we continue on our way," Fantini said. "But this is a huge success for Team Sheppard as we move forward."

The RSAF has already found success at Sheppard, however, as the first F-15 avionics class with Saudi airmen graduated in March.

Overall, about 120 Saudi students have graduated from a variety of courses at Sheppard, including the aircraft officer maintenance course and basic instructor course. Currently, there are Saudi students in six different technical training courses at Sheppard. Students range in rank from airmen to lieutenant colonels.

The 82nd Training Wing fosters a robust international program, with 11 countries currently represented with students in 13 courses.

There are currently 42 Saudi students in the F-15 avionics course, with more expected to arrive in coming months.

Services collaborate on dental residency program to improve patient care

by Senior Airman Courtney Moses
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- A major milestone in the expansion of oral and maxillofacial surgical dentistry was achieved recently with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the 59th Medical Wing and the Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Byron Hepburn, director of the San Antonio Military Health System and commander of the 59th Medical Wing, Col. Grant Hartup, director of the Air Force Dental Operations, Air Force Medical Operations Agency, along with Army Col. Thomas Temple, commander of the Fort Sam Dental Command, and Col. Craig Willard, commander of the Army Dental Activity, gathered to sign a Memorandum of Agreement establishing the integration of the 59th Medical Wing and Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity's Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Programs at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas April 2.

The MOA establishes specific terms and conditions required to integrate the services' oral and maxillofacial surgery residency programs.

Currently, the Air Force program is directed by the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center while the Army program is commanded by the Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity at the San Antonio Military Medical Center on JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. These programs will be combined and referred to as the San Antonio Military Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program.

The program combination will not only merge the expertise of the surgical teaching staff, but will also combine the operating and sedation room facility access as well. This program will improve efficiency and patient services by enhancing clinical experiences of graduating surgeons while increasing the availability of the oral and maxillofacial surgery staff for the patients.

The residency, which is a four year program, will begin this upcoming July. Five residents will be selected every year, totaling twenty residents enrolled in the program at any given time. Each graduating class will result in five fully trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons who will be assigned or deployed throughout the world providing surgical health care.

"This marks an exciting opportunity for continued collaboration between the Air Force and Army. Within the SAMHS we have made tremendous strides in the last two years to improve efficiency in health care," said Hepburn. "This MOA proves our continued commitment to optimizing our dental training programs while developing our young professionals to work in a joint environment both stateside and overseas."

Oral and maxillofacial surgeries correct a wide spectrum of diseases, injuries and defects that afflict the head, neck, face, jaws, and the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. A recognized international surgical specialty, oral and maxillofacial surgery is one of the nine specialties of dentistry.

"Our actions today will translate into world class health care for thousands of military beneficiaries as well as civilians in the months and years to come," added Hepburn.

President Awards Army Chaplain Posthumous Medal of Honor

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 – Yesterday at a White House ceremony, an Army chaplain, Capt. Emil J. Kapaun, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic and selfless actions during the Korean War.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
President Barack Obama holds Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun's Easter stole in the Oval Office during a meeting with Kapaun's family at the White House, April 11, 2013. The President and First Lady Michelle Obama met with members of Chaplain Kapaun's family before awarding him the Medal of Honor posthumously during a ceremony in the East Room. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
President Barack Obama presented the medal to Kapaun's nephew, Ray Kapaun, during a ceremony in the East Room. Ray was joined by other family members and veterans of the Korean War who served with Kapaun.
Kapaun was ordained a priest in 1940, and served under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita in Pilsen, Kan. In 1944, he began serving as an Army chaplain. In 1993, Kapaun was named a "Servant of God" by the Vatican, and is currently a candidate for sainthood.

During the Medal of Honor ceremony, Obama described Kapaun's acts of courage and compassion.

"When commanders ordered an evacuation, he chose to stay and tend to their wounds,” Obama said. “When the enemy broke through and there was combat hand to hand, he carried on, comforting the injured and the dying, offering them some measure of peace before they left this Earth. When enemy forces bore down, it seemed like the end.

"Father Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer. He pleaded with [him] and convinced him to call out to his fellow Chinese,” the president continued. “The shooting stopped, and they negotiated a safe surrender, saving those American lives.

"Then as Father Kapaun was being led away, he saw another American, wounded, unable to walk, lying in a ditch, defenseless,” Obama added. “An enemy soldier was standing over him, rifle aimed at his head ready to shoot. Father Kapaun pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the enemy soldier watched, stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away.

"This is the battle we honor today,” the president continued. “An American soldier who didn't fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, the love for his brothers, so pure, that he was willing to die so they might live.

"He carried that wounded soldier for four miles on the death march and when Father Kapaun grew tired, he'd help the wounded Soldier hop on one leg,” the president added. “When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit, knowing stragglers would be shot, he begged them to keep walking."

The president then went on to describe how Kapaun cared for the soldiers right up until the time of his death.
Obama then presented the Medal of Honor to Ray Kapaun, Father Kapaun's nephew.

Kapaun's Medal of Honor nomination reads: "for conspicuous acts of gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, Nov. 1-2, 1950, during the Korean War."

Among the documents and interviews within the nomination package, one of the narratives reads: "As Chinese Communist forces encircled [3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry during the battle of Unsan,] Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under enemy direct fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered soldiers. When the Chinese commandos attacked the battalion command post, Kapaun and other members of the headquarters withdrew 500 meters across a nearby river, but Kapaun returned to help the wounded, gathering approximately 30 injured men into the relative protection of a Korean dugout."

The narrative goes on to describe how the battalion became entirely surrounded by enemy forces. It recounts how Kapaun spent the next day, Nov. 2, repeatedly rescuing the wounded from "no-man's land outside the perimeter."

As the battalion's position became hopeless, "Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded." At dusk, he made his way back to the dugout.
"Among the injured Americans was a wounded Chinese officer," the narrative continues. "As Chinese infantry closed in on their position, Kapaun convinced him to negotiate for the safety of the injured Americans."
The narrative then describes how, after Kapaun's capture, he intervened to save the life of a fellow soldier who was "lying in a nearby ditch with a broken ankle and other injuries. As Chinese soldiers prepared to execute" the soldier, "Kapaun risked his own life by pushing the Chinese soldier aside" thereby saving the soldier's life.

The narrative continues with other acts of bravery and charity, both during the march north and throughout their ordeal at the prisoner of war camp. Kapaun died there, May 23, 1951.

Many prisoners of war were inspired by Kapaun, including Mike Dowe, who at the time was an Army first lieutenant.

Dowe recounted how U.S. soldiers ran out of ammunition in the Anju, North Korea, area in early November 1950, when "wave after wave" of Chinese communist forces launched a surprise attack across the border into North Korea.

Thousands of U.S. soldiers were taken prisoner and were forced to march northward in what Dowe termed "death marches." Soldiers who were too weak or injured to keep up were shot, he said.

It was then that Dowe, who was a member of the 19th Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, first saw Kapaun carrying the wounded and encouraging others to do the same.

The POWs eventually were taken to a valley near Pyoktong, near the Yalu River in northwest North Korea near the Chinese border.

"I don't know the name of that valley, but we called it the 'Kapaun Valley' because that is where Father Kapaun instilled in us a will to live," he said.

Kapaun tended to the wounded and encouraged people to share and help each other, Dowe said. He also snuck out of camp at night and stole food, which he would bring back and share with everyone.

Then, in January 1951, the soldiers were moved to Pyoktong, along the Yalu River. The enlisted were located in a valley and the officers were separated and placed on a hill, Dowe said. Turkish prisoners were co-located with the enlisted.

Conditions in the camps were miserable during winter of 1950-51, which Dowe said was one of the coldest ever in Korea. Temperatures dipped to minus 28 Fahrenheit.

Dowe said the soldiers were still wearing their summer uniforms, because they'd been told they would be home by Thanksgiving 1950, not realizing at the time that the Chinese would join the North Koreans in attacking the United Nations forces.

All of the trees in the area had been stripped away, but there was a wood fence around the officer's compound on the hill, Dowe said. Each morning, Kapaun got up before everyone else and went out into the subzero weather to collect wood from that fence, he said.

Kapaun would use that wood to heat water for coffee in a pan that he had fashioned from scrap metal. Dowe said he still has vivid recollections of that "little guy with the beard and scraggly hat pulled over his ears, made from the sleeve of a sweater, bringing coffee to everyone. You can't imagine how good that was to start the day off for us."

At night, the men would pass the time telling stories before falling asleep, Dowe said. A favorite topic was describing the food they'd like to order once they got home. "Some of the best stories were told by Father Kapaun, who described his mother's cooking back on the farm," in Kansas, Dowe said. Kapaun was always keeping the men's spirits up, he added.

The chaplain continued to make nighttime forays outside the prison camp to the surrounding countryside, to steal food for the soldiers in the camps. Dowe often accompanied him on what he termed "ration runs."

Sometimes they would raid a warehouse where 50-pound bags of millet and cracked corn were stored. Dowe said millet is like bird seed and very hard to digest. The two would first distribute it to the enlisted prisoners.

Soon, Kapaun became known as the "Great Thief," Dowe said. He explained that the nickname was given to him, not just because he was so successful at stealing food, but also because it was learned that Kapaun prayed to Saint Dismas, who was the penitent thief crucified alongside Jesus, as described in the Bible.
The Chinese often tried to brainwash the POWs by lecturing them on the evils of capitalism and the virtues of a communist society, Dowe said.

"Father Kapaun would rebut the lectures with intelligent responses that the Chinese found impossible to counter," Dowe recalled. "That would infuriate them. Some who resisted the lectures would be tortured or killed. We thought Father Kapaun would be killed as well."

At one point, the guards took Kapaun away. "We thought that was the end for him," Dowe said. Then, a few days later they brought him back to camp.

"They were absolutely afraid of him," Dowe said, explaining why he was returned. "There was an aura about the guy. He was fearless. He had a way of addressing people that was frank and straightforward. They couldn't understand why he wasn't afraid like others. Threats and intimidation had no effect on him."

More than half of the prisoners died that winter, Dowe said. They often died at night and the soldiers would drag the bodies outside. Every day there were burial details. Soldiers assigned to these details would carry the bodies about half a mile past the enlisted area in the valley and across the Yalu to an island where they would be buried.

"Father Kapaun always volunteered for burial details," Dowe said. "He'd recover the clothing from the dead, wash it, and then provide clean clothing to the enlisted."

Besides providing clothing to the soldiers, Kapaun would dress their wounds, offer words of encouragement and say prayers, Dowe said, adding that he did this despite being warned by the guards not to minister to the soldiers.

Despite warnings from the guards, Kapaun got up extra early on Easter Day 1950 to begin a special sunrise service. It would be his last Easter.

"It was a fantastic sermon," Dowe recalled, saying it was the most "momentous event" in his life. He said hymns were sung and the echoes carried. Soon, he said, POWs up and down the valley were joining in.
"It was absolutely amazing. There were a few who claimed that Father Kapaun seemed to have a halo around him," Dowe said.

The Chinese quickly arrived, but then became too afraid to stop the service, Dowe said.

The week after the sermon, Kapaun collapsed from a blood clot in his leg, Dowe said. There were some American doctors in the camp who treated it and he was walking and eating again soon after.

Kapaun then contracted pneumonia. The military doctors took care of that as well, Dowe said. After Kapaun recovered, guards became upset that he hadn't died. They prepared to remove him to the "death camp," a place where very sick prisoners were taken to die, and where no food or medical attention was given to them.

When the guards came, "we pushed them away," Dowe said. "They brought in troops with bayonets and threatened everyone if people didn't pick him up and carry him away.

"Father Kapaun told everyone to stop resisting and not to 'fight them on my behalf.' I was in tears," Dowe continued, his voice tinged with emotion. "And then he turned to me and said, 'Mike, don't cry. I'm going where I've always wanted to go. And when I get there, I'll be saying a prayer for all of you.'"

After Kapaun’s death, some of the guards who spoke English confided to Dowe that they were afraid of the "unconquerable spirit of a free man loyal only to his God and his country."

After the war, which ended in a truce in 1953, Dowe was invited to testify to the committee involved in writing the POW Code of Conduct, which is still in effect today. Dowe said Kapaun had a strong influence on him and he shared that with the committee, which emphasized the "loyalty" and "keeping the faith" aspects of the code.

"Father Kapaun instilled that kind of loyalty in others, enabling them to maintain their honor, self-respect and will to live," Dowe said. "I've seen over and over again that those who did not display that loyalty would invariably give up and die, often within 24 hours."

Dowe said President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave him a personal commendation for his contribution to the committee. However, Dowe said the real credit should go to Kapaun, whom he credits with saving the lives of hundreds of POWs, directly or indirectly.

Following the war, Dowe went on to serve in the Army, retiring as a colonel in 1970 and then working as a defense contractor. He currently is a scientist at Raytheon.

He said he prays to Kapaun every night, asking him for help and guidance. And, he said, he knows Kapaun is in heaven praying for him and his fellow POWs.

Dowe said Kapaun had a positive impact on the many non-Catholics in the prison camp as well. He said the commander of the Turkish POWs told him as they were being liberated, "I will pray to my God Allah for Father Kapaun."

Air Force graduates first RPA armament course

y Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Five Airmen from the 363rd Training Squadron graduated from the Air Force's first Remotely-Piloted Aircraft armament apprentice course during a graduation ceremony here April 8.

Prior to the RPA armament apprentice course coming on-line, Airmen who were headed to an RPA armament assignment received one block of RPA familiarization training in the Special Missions armament course, with the rest of their upgrade training being conducted in the field at the gaining unit.

With the ever-growing multi-role use of RPAs, it became apparent a more formalized training method was needed to ensure war-fighting success.

"As Remotely-Piloted Aircraft become more and more prevalent on today's air and space battlefield, it is critical that we have a fully-trained force to support combat operations for this cutting-edge technology," said Maj. Oliver Ulmer, 363rd TRS commander. "RPAs have transitioned from a role of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnassaince (ISR), and into a more active offensive weapon system. With this move, our force has also transitioned to provide trained Airmen to support this increasing combat support requirement."

The course, which covers four blocks of instruction over 20 academic days, includes instruction on aerospace ground equipment, MQ-1 Predator familiarization, as well as MQ-9 Reaper familiarization.

Subjects such as armament systems components, weapons release systems, suspension equipment and air munitions loading and unloading are taught throughout the course.

"The students go through armament fundamentals with everyone else first," said Staff Sgt. Ronel Rivera-Santiago, 363rd TRS aircraft armament instructor and one of two RPA instructors. "Then they come to us for four weeks of nothing but RPA training."

The Reapers, with a range of 1,150 miles (or 1,000 nautical miles) and cruise speed of approximately 200 knots, can carry a munitions combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), according to the Air Force MQ-9 Factsheet.

These types of payload, not to mention the Reapers' ISR capabilities, significantly increase the options for battlefield commanders and are helping to change the concept of irregular warfare in real-time.

"The RPA's multi-mission capability and long endurance allow commanders to see changes to the battlefield instantly," Santiago said.

Santiago is thrilled to be a part of teaching the RPA armament pipeline students.

"It's a great opportunity," Santiago said. "It's amazing to actually be able to teach this course and be on the cusp of getting to teach these new students coming online."

For one student, knowing he is working on cutting-edge technology that is impacting the battlefield in real-time makes it all that much more worthwhile.

"I love working with computers, my father worked with computers," said Airman Ryan Bowen, 363rd TRS RPA armament apprentice student from Shenendoah Valley, Va. "It's just very exciting to see an unmanned aircraft being able to fly with just computers and being able to be a part of that technology."

For Airman Austin Hoisington, 363rd TRS RPA armament apprentice student from Olathe, Kan., the realization that unmanned aerial vehicles help execute the mission downrange while at the same time ensuring personnel safety make his future job one to look forward to.

"What's exciting about this course is that it's the absolute future of the Air Force," Hoisington. "With remotely-piloted aircraft, no one has to get hurt flying this aircraft. If something were to go wrong, it's just the machine going down."

Graduates of the RPA armament apprentice course earn 16 credits towards their Community College of the Air Force degree.

The 363rd TRS, part of the 82nd Training Group here, trains more than 3,800 graduates in armament systems, nuclear and conventional munitions annually. 

Military training instructors shape next generation of officers

by Master Sgt. Michael Voss
Air University Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- Dating back to September 1947, Air Force military training instructors have represented one of the most visible special-duty career fields in the service.

From the original group of "flight marchers" to today's MTIs, the need to train new Airmen has remained constant.

Today, 500 Airmen in the grades of staff sergeant through master sergeant work tirelessly planning, organizing and directing basic and initial military training for 35,000 new recruits each year at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Though not as large in number as their counterparts at Lackland, nine MTIs head to work each morning at the Air Force Officer Training School on Maxwell AFB, where they train the more than 1,000 officer trainees who receive their commissions from the school annually.

MTIs started reporting for duty at Maxwell AFB in 1993 after the school moved from Lackland's Medina Annex to Maxwell AFB as part of the then-Air Force chief of staff's vision to align all officer education and training under Air University. OTS is part of the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development.

"The level of responsibility and self-discipline required to do this job is very high," said MTI Tech. Sgt. Paul Baisden. "MTIs here are not dealing with basic trainees who may have just graduated from high school; we're dealing with officer trainees who have graduated college and some of them have prior enlisted service."

Baisden, like all MTIs at OTS, has experienced first-hand the difference between being an MTI at basic training and OTS. Because of the unique demands at OTS, the MTIs here have gone through a rigorous screening process, and before applying as an instructor, each applicant is required to complete a three-year tour at Lackland. Baisden has worn the MTI hat for eight years, three of which have been at Maxwell AFB.

"Here, you're also dealing with commissioned staff a lot more often than you would if you were at Lackland, so the interaction between the officer and the enlisted staffs is very involved," he said.

The road to becoming an MTI will deter some from applying for the special duty, but becoming an OTS instructor is a process that few of those who are MTIs will attempt. MTI training is eight weeks, followed by a 90-day certification period, during which a trainee will become fully qualified on 121 tasks and evaluated on teaching drill.

"The application process for OTS MTI duty is very selective,"  said Tech. Sgt. Chi Yi, an MTI. "There were more than 40 applicants recently, and only four were hired."

For Baisden, his dream of becoming an MTI started long before he ever wore the hat.

"I went to high school in Texas, and I was in Air Force Junior ROTC," he said. "Being so close to San Antonio, we would take trips to Lackland all the time. I would see the guys with the big hats walking around training young Airmen, and that made me want to be one of them."

For most officer trainees, this will be the first time they've interacted with enlisted members.

"MTIs try to provide them with the enlisted perspective as much as possible," Baisden said. "We teach them that we're all Airmen, and we need to take care of each other regardless of rank. We tell them that they need to seek out their NCOs at their first duty stations because they have been around and they are a wealth of leadership and knowledge that will be invaluable."

OTS also commissions Air Guard and Reserve officers, so the impact MTIs have on officer trainees also extends to outside the gates and into the civilian workplace, Baisden said.

"We are the first example of what an NCO should be," said MTI Master Sgt. Anthony S. Key. "Being an OTS MTI is more about relationship building between officers and NCOs." Key, a former civil engineer, has been a MTI 13 years.

For the OTS MTIs, having influenced both potential senior enlisted and officer leaders is gratifying.

"There is a definite reward that comes full circle as an OTS military training instructor, because we went from directly affecting the enlisted at Lackland, to now directly affecting the officer corps, as well," said Master Sgt. Antonio Holmes. "The biggest honor is being asked to give the officer trainee their first salute."

(Staff Sgt. Sandra Percival contributed to this article.)

Grand Forks AFB Airman named AMC's 2012 LRS Material Management Senior NCO of the Year

by Airman 1st Class Zachiah Roberson
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/11/2013 - GRAND FORKS AFB, N.D. -- Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Howard, 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron acting superintendent, was recently named the 2012 LRS Material Management Senior NCO of the Year for Air Mobility Command.

Howard's main duties entail advising his commander on material management policies and procedures, overseeing personnel career broadening opportunities, managing the squadron awards program, coordinating with six base agencies to aid squadron members with career opportunities such as retraining, and working with the Career Job Reservation program to ensure an effective utilization of manpower.

Working these tasks daily were not Howard's only notable traits in winning this award.

"The majority of the bullets (notable performance achievements) for my award came from my last deployment," said Howard. "This deployment was a joint assignment as part of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan while assigned to Regional Support Command which operated out of Kabul, Afghanistan."

Deployed from February to July 2012, his team advised 724 military and civilian Afghanistan National Army personnel who supplied forces across Afghanistan with more than $2 billion in clothing, weapons and vehicle repair assets.

Howard is quick to attribute his success to those behind scenes who helped him along the way.

"As with all awards there are a lot of other folks that have dedicated many hours supporting me to help make the mission happen," he said. "The 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron is no different. LRS personnel make the mission happen every day, silently leading the Wing. Whether they are ensuring your household goods get packed, or refueling the Global Hawk on the ramp or even providing maintenance on your government-owned vehicle, LRS makes it happen."

With 20 years of service, Howard is no stranger to receiving awards; some of his previous honors include the 319th LRS Lance P. Sijan award in 2013; and a senior NCO award for the 341st Operations Group in 2008.

With this award fresh under his belt, Howard will move on to compete at the Air Force level.